No official declarations were made last night at the Hotel Kabuki, site of the (presumed gubernatorial) “I Knew Him When ...” fundraiser for Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Nonetheless, some 500 folks ponied up the price (from $100 to $5K, or $25 smackers for the under and unemployed), to learn more about this potential candidate. And hopefully, hear a few fun factoids from those who knew Newsom when.
As only family members can, Hilary Newsom Callan regaled the crowd with semi-embarrassing recollections of Gavin, circa The High School Years: “Yes, my brother actually wore suits in high school and started the slicked back hair at a very early age.”
But even as the wonkish and “kinda uncool” high school Gavin sometimes embarrassed his sister, Hilary has never been surprised by her big brother’s work ethic, political acumen and concern for society’s under-served citizens.
“Our mother, Tessa, who remains in inspiration to us both, worked three jobs when we were growing up. Our father, Judge William Newsom, spent 95 percent of his time giving to non-profits,” said Hilary, with great conviction. “So it’s no surprise to me that my brother works as hard as he does, at everything he does, and one of his main goals is giving back to the community.”
Amid loud applause, Hilary welcomed her brother to the stage and handed him a framed poster drawn by her 4-year-old daughter, Siena Newsom Callan.
The mayor’s niece artfully depicted a classic stick-figure drawing of herself with her uncle. The text of the piece was dictated to Siena’s teacher, Cameron Phleger.
Keen observations by the pre-schooler elicited knowing laughs from the audience, such as: “He sometimes talks a lot.”
And as we like to call it in the news biz, Siena came up with a heckuva quicker quote: “He is the President, wait no, just the boss of San Francisco!”
Poster by Siena Newsom Callan
Like Newsom, Cameron Phleger is a native and multi-generational San Franciscan. And shared with us some of her favorite “I Knew Him When ...” memories.
“I first met Gavin around 1992,” said Cameron. “He used to be my babysitter!”
Asked for her review of his skills from that era, Cameron deadpanned: “I’m alive.”
Laughing, she swore that, actually, Mayor Newsom was a great babysitter.
“I was in the fourth grade then and my friends and I were in that phase when you make crank phone calls,” said Cameron. “Sometimes, Gavin would make the calls with us!”
Fast forward to today: Mayor Newsom is now dialing for some serious dollars.
“I believe there is no issue in the state of California that cannot be fixed,” declared Newsom to the crowd in the hotel ballroom. “And I think I know a thing, or two, about governing ungovernable communities!”
Newsom said he was heartened by the sight of some supporters wearing previous campaign pins that read, “Groundfloor.”
This phrase, Newsom said, goes back to when he first ran for Mayor in 2003. And many seasoned politicos cautioned he should run for State Assembly before tackling the mayor’s seat.
“That brings us to today. Not a completely dissimilar situation,” explained Newsom. “I want you to know how much I believe this campaign can be won!”
Newsom went on to describe his Town Hall meetings, taking place in “every corner of the State.”
“We were just up in Placer County, one of the most conservative areas in our state,” said Newsom. “But we are reaching out and once again, running a campaign of ideas and a willingness to take risks to get things done.”
Newsom said he hoped to be making a formal announcement of his gubernatorial bid soon. Very soon. In the meantime, he invited potential supporters to follow his work and Town Hall schedules in the virtual world, that new crucible of campaigns.
“You can join us on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and learn what we envision for a better California; I even ‘tweet’ now!,” exclaimed Newsom, with a laugh. “Barack Obama, eat your heart out!”
As the event ended, an attendee turned to me and asked me what I thought. As I possessed the pen-and-notebook, I turned the question back to this attendee for his feedback.
Check out the photos below.
Hilary Newsom Callan, Mayoral Director of Communications Nate Ballard and Lori Puccinelli Stern
Don Solem (left) with Jonathan Moscone and Stuart Milk
Geoff Callan and Derek Dukes
Tony Arata and his wife, Newsom Campaign Finance Director Paige Barry Arata who organized the fundraiser